Susan Stepney, Stephen P. Lord.
Formal Specification of an Access Control System.

Software---Practice and Experience, 17(9):575-593, 1987.


Computing facilities networked together but controlled by different administrations pose a problem of access control. Who decides who can use what?

We specify a formal model for an access control system which allows users and services from different administrations to communicate with each other, while still allowing the administrators to retain control of their own parts of the network. The model, written in the Z specification language, has been developed as the access control system for ADMIRAL, though it is not specific to ADMIRAL. It provides a framework for administrators to build access control systems to meet their differing requirements.

A system based on the model would allow users to log in to a distributed computing system and to make requests for services in any part of the system, without having to provide any more information about themselves. After this initial log in all subsequent access control decisions are handled automatically, and remain invisible to the user unless access is refused.

We also discuss the experience we have had animating this model in Prolog.

More on the

  author = "Susan Stepney and Stephen P. Lord",
  title = "Formal Specification of an Access Control System",
  journal = "Software---Practice and Experience",
  volume = 17,
  number = 9,
  pages = "575--593",
  year = 1987